January 22, 2017 – Jesus calling

Epiphany 3   Psalm 27, Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Matthew 4:12-23  Jesus Calling ************************************ Every year Bishop Devadhar asks all of us pastors, as part of our annual review, if we have shared our call stories with our congregations. Our bishop believes doing this will encourage others to better hear their own calls. I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of my call story every year – but, as I’ve told our bishop – to tell it all could take weeks… I remember talking with a pastor friend about our calls – telling him I was a very unlikely person to ever become a pastor… Anyone who remembered me from high school would laugh out loud if someone said I’d turn out to be a pastor. My pastor friend said, “I was an iron worker when I heard my call. I told a friend on the job I was thinking of becoming a pastor. He started laughing so hard he almost went over the edge of the beam were on, ten stories up off the ground.” My story is maybe not that funny… But I’m going to have do a summary. I was single at the time, living in Vermont, working as director of a farmer’s advocacy group. Rather suddenly, our board decided they wanted me to resign. I was surprised. Though in retrospect, I had been losing passion for the work. They could tell. I’d been at the job six years. The farm crisis was still smoldering, but we were running low on inspiration, and there was no longer much consensus about our group’s direction. And an inner voice seemed to be guiding me to be quiet and listen for the Spirit, as I heard the board co-chairs tell me this news… I put out a press release a few days later on a Friday afternoon, announcing I was leaving the group. I was about to head home, when a reporter called, asking about the press release. After awhile she asked “So what are you going to do next?” I said, “I’m going to be listening to hear what God suggests.” That quote made it into her article the next day. After church the day after that, three women from our congregation came over and said, “We saw the article. We think you should be a pastor.” I protested… That was not something I’d been thinking much about. I said I said I’d pray about it… Which I did. Awhile later I had a dream in which I was fishing in a very small stream, from a small wooden bridge. I had a nice trout on the line, several pounds, pulling hard. Then a gigantic fish came up out of nowhere – swallowing whole the fish on my line – a fish that had looked big just a moment ago – but now looked very small in comparison… (Did I mention – I was a practicing fish-aholic at the time, with a thirty-something-hours-a-week fishing habit?) I’m not sure if my tug back on the line was about me trying to catch that enormous fish – or pull the smaller fish out of its mouth.  Either way, the smaller fish came out of the enormous fish… and I woke up… I shared that dream with friends, one of whom told...

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